Dan Brooks' retirement official, but who will take his spot?
|Saturday, January 14, 2017, 12:09 PM- -|
Brooks was recently named the 2016 Assistant Coach of the Year for the Football Bowl Subdivision by the American Football Coaches Association. Brooks, who also serves as associate head coach for the Tigers, just completed his 33rd year as a college coach, including the last eight at Clemson. Brooks coached 410 games as a full-time assistant coach, second-most on the Tiger coaching staff.
Brooks has produced 30 NFL draft picks, seven NFL first-round selections, three All-Americans, 14 all-conference picks and one Outland Trophy winner. Clemson has gone 82-25 during his eight seasons on staff, including six consecutive seasons with 10 or more victories.
Swinney officially announced Brooks' retirement during Saturday's National Championship celebration in Death Valley.
"There has never been a coach that has been more committed or cares about his players than Dan Brooks. Ever," Swinney said. "Dan is 65 and decided he wants to retire and go out on top. I tried to talk him out of it, but this is what he wants to do. Dan Brooks - you deserve this brother. You deserve this."
Brooks told TigerNet last week that he had someone accept the award on his behalf so he could stay with the team throughout all of the playoff run.
“I have a guy who I coached with for a very long time that's going to receive it for me. I told the guy at the AFCA when he called me about the award that I wouldn't be there,” Brooks said. “As we started the year, you want to finish and play those 15 games. We work for a guy that's really a visionary. A year ago he said 15 for 15 and this year it was to finish. That's something we set out to do. I would love to be there (at the awards ceremony) because it's very humbling to be recognized by your own peers, but I'd a lot rather be here coaching my guys than there.”
Brooks said he was enjoying another chance to coach for a National Championship.
“You do. This just doesn't happen. You pinch yourself and say, 'Is this really happening?' I coached in a game where Nebraska won the national championship - it was Coach (Tom) Osborne and the last game he ever coached,” Brooks said. “Then you get a chance to play against Florida State in the national championship and then you're in a couple of these things here. That doesn't happen to everybody. God blessed us. We're in a great situation. I've been around good players and good coaches so I've been fortunate.”
With National Signing Day looming a few weeks away (February 1st), thoughts will quickly turn to Brooks’ replacement.
One possibiity to consider - defensive analyst Mickey Conn could be elevated into a full-time role with the defense. We don’t think it would be as defensive tackles coach, however.
Conn played defensive back at Alabama – he was a teammate of Swinney’s – and later started the Loganville (GA) Grayson High School program. The only football coach in the history of Grayson prior to this season, Conn had a career coaching record of 137-48 and led Grayson to a state championship in 2011.
Swinney hired Conn last March to become the defensive analyst, and Conn told TigerNet before the Fiesta Bowl that he has spent the last 10 months trying to learn as much as he can as quickly as he can under the tutelage of Brent Venables and the other defensive coaches.
“It's been great. It's been a great experience. Just taking a step back from the role I've been in into the role I'm in now has been challenging because I can't communicate with the players and I can't coach the players,” Conn said. “It's been a great opportunity for me to learn how things are done on this level and the way Coach Swinney does things, the players, the coaches. It's been a great experience. Coach Venables, learning his defense has been a great experience. I feel like I'm learning something new every day. Any time you're growing and learning, it's a great experience.”
Conn could step into a role with the defensive backs – helping out secondary coach Mike Reed. A recent rules proposal from the American Football Coaches Association received unanimous support among NCAA head coaches about adding a 10th full-time assistant coach, with members citing overall student-athlete welfare and the ability to create a better player-to-coach ratio.
If that happens – which could be in the spring – Swinney could move another staffer (like analyst Lemansky Hall, who has spent time with Brooks this season) into the tackles spot.
We will keep you updated as we hear more about Brooks' replacement.